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Why won't British Gas set-up a new account following my move?

  • 8 March 2022
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Hiya - this is not an OVO question but I hope someone can help. My stepson moved into his own house in September 2021. The energy supplier for gas and electric is British Gas. He contacted them on completion to give them his details and a meter reading but they told him, they couldn’t talk to him because he is not the account holder and there are arrears on the account. The house was empty for some time before he moved in (deceased estate) and although we have a name for the former tenant (it’s not the same as the person who sold the property) we have no idea who he is or where he is now. We have tried repeatedly to talk to British Gas by phone and email but we’re getting nowhere. Letters from a debt collection agency are now coming chasing the outstanding amount - still in the name of the former tenant. We know we’re liable for the gas and electric from his moving in date but just cannot get British Gas to update his details or send a bill in his name.  We’ve tried switching as well but can’t because of the arrears. Any ideas where we can go from here? Trying hard not to get a black mark on his credit record and would just like it sorted.

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Best answer by Blastoise186 8 March 2022, 23:15

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Updated on 12/09/23 by Emmanuelle_OVO

Howdy @hels_g !

Good question actually. Thanks for mentioning this relates to BG. This will make sure I don’t try to use any OVO specific solutions. You’ve just met a forum volunteer by the way. The name’s Blastoise186 and I’m an experienced forum volunteer around here.

Obviously, you and your stepson are NOT liable for the debt racked up by the previous tenant, pretty much everyone on this forum would back me up on that. The debt is still owed and can be collected, but cannot be enforced against anyone who’s not related to the debtor. If you accidentally get a black mark because of it, you’ll be eligible to have it wiped off and your credit record restored to how it would have been without the black mark. In actual fact, issuing a false black mark like this is frowned upon in the industry and any company who wants to play fair would be sure to reverse it pretty quickly. I know that OVO will always be happy to do so if needed, but it can take up to a month because OVO’s Collections Team sends this type of update to Experian in batches once a month. Either way, the correction would get queued up and applied at the next opportunity. I would imagine British Gas does it in a similar way.

Did you try to create a new account for him upon moving in? That’s the usual process and I’m shocked that BG failed to pick up on that fact. This is a tricky one to figure out, but I think I can give you the right advice.

Just as a heads up though, I’m not an expert on this type of thing, so I can’t promise that I’ll get it 100% accurate but I’ll do my best.

The first thing I’d do, would be to contact the Energy Ombudsman to escalate the dispute. It might be a bit tricky without the Deadlock Letter, but I think it’s still possible. In fact, I’ll save you a few clicks as well, on the house. Use this exact link and you should get directly to the right place to start that process.

If you get any debt collectors stop by the property to try and enforce the debt, please refuse entry and explain that the debt is in dispute because you are not the debtor. If you can provide a forwarding address for the actual debtor, that may help to get the debt collectors off your back. As for the letters? I think you can just do a Return To Sender with the reason “Not at this address” via your local post office. Please don’t open them however as it’s illegal to open someone else’s post. Simply chat with your local sub-postmaster at the post office and I’m confident they’ll make the arrangements to return the letters to the senders, free of charge.

If the debt collectors still chase you despite you making reasonable efforts to get them to leave, then this may potentially be harassment. It’s a very complicated area to deal with and I think everyone here would probably say what I’m about to say - contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for help - the Energy Ombudsman can also intervene as well. I’d recommend Citizens Advice in the first instance though, so I’ll give you some links to their advice in case it helps.

Citizens Advice - Stopping bailiffs if you don't owe a debt (also applies to debt collectors)

Citizens Advice - Complain about bailiffs

Just in case the moderators here can provide any further advice, I’ll also ask @Tim_OVO and @Jess_OVO to stop by. While they’re unable to help resolve this particular issue, they might have another set of resources that I missed.

I genuinely hope this at least helps you out in some way. You may want to consider switching away from British Gas once everything gets resolved, but it’s best to take it one step at a time.

While I can’t access accounts with any supplier or take up complaints on your behalf, if there’s anything else I can do to offer advice, please feel free to reply to this thread. I’m happy to help you out with general advice as best I can.

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As usual some really good  advise from    Blastoise186 i would follow it from my experience

I had dealings with them  once  they certainly have some strange policies  and my advice is soon as you take possession of a property take a photo of meter readings  especially if you have a meter change.

Had a year with them  chasing /hounding me after a meter change took photo morning of change and one with guy and hands on 3 phase meter, saw reading guy wrote down.
When the bill cane reading was 10000kw out.
Thought would just be i a case of just sending in photos and explain the situation not a chance went on for a year

Someone obviously misread his reading or typed it in wrong  it literally got to court steps before they saw sense .

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